Ocon: Alpine’s performance in F1 Australian GP “definitely a step up” compared to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia

Photo Credit: BWT Alpine F1 Team
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It seems that the woes continue for Alpine. When there seems to be the slightest hope of a first points finish of the season, especially with Max Verstappen and the two Mercedes drivers retiring from the race, misfortune fell their way.

That’s exactly what happened to Esteban Ocon this past weekend at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. After qualifying P15 and getting out of Q1 for the first time this season, the Frenchman had hope to finish in the points.

However, he had to make the earliest pit stop of the race, on lap 9, when a tear-off from a visor in front of him got lodged into his brake duct. His chances of a point or points had gone.

The Frenchman was reminiscing on what might have been, as points could have been in his grasp and would have given a boost to an Alpine team that is consistently struggling. In the first stint, he was just over 2s clear of Nico Hülkenberg and teammate Pierre Gasly before the unscheduled stop.

Had he stayed out until the VSC was deployed to clear Hamilton’s car like they did, he would have been right in the mix to score points.

“Before the tear-off we were fighting with Kevin, Alex and I was in front of Nico, So we were on for possible points, from ninth to 11th, I think that would have been where we finished today.

“Unfortunately, we’ll never know the outcome, but it was an interesting race. I was happy with how we progressed, the pace we had, we were keeping up with these guys. So it was looking good.

“On the first lap, I got a tear-off in my mirror, that was the first thing. And then a couple of laps later, it’s not the same tear-off, it’s another one that goes in my brake duct.

While Ocon would have wanted to continue going after the tear-off in the brake duct, a brake failure would have been inevitable.

Just after the halfway point, he explained the radio quality was extremely poor, adding to the list of unfortunate problems he encountered on Sunday.

“The whole rear of the car was going to burn, if we didn’t stop. It obviously was the safe thing to do. Maybe keeping going would have made us retire, we will never know.

“So not much that we could have done. I also had the radio failing by lap 30. It’s like if the Wi-Fi is horribly bad and it keeps cutting, basically.

“So a lot went wrong a bit with just being unlucky, I would say. I think the thing to remember is the progress that we’ve done this weekend, slowly, but hopefully we can keep that going.

Despite many problems and a car that was once again out of the points, Ocon still said that this was the best weekend of the campaign to date for him and the team.

After qualifying, the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix winner explained a big breakthrough with set-up in FP3 had transformed his weekend. A Q2 appearance and a strong start is a positive they can take from Australia.

“I think that race has been the strongest out of the three, definitely, in terms of pace and performance. And it’s good. It means that it’s going in the right direction.

“Everything’s relative, but relative to the first two, definitely it’s a step up. And the car felt better as well. So it’s not only that this track suits the car better — I don’t think it does. I think we set it up much better than [at] the other races.”